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Residents, businesses speak out against rezoning
July 11, 2018

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Residents and businesses owners voiced their views, protesting the proposed rezoning of the 1,790-acre Troyer Brothers property on SR82 for limerock mining.

The public comments portion of the Lee County Hearing Examiner's hearing continued through 4:30 p.m. on June 28, and then reconvened at 9 a.m. on June 29 with more yet to come.

Lehigh resident Cynthia Currado, a math and science teacher at Gateway Charter Elementary School, was among those expressing concerns about the proposed mine.

"My biggest concern is the traffic that will be coming off Homestead where we live. I'm also concerned about what this will do to the nearby wildlife and water tables. There is no way of knowing the lasting effects from this type of digging," Currado said.

Currado was one of a number of residents and property owners who cited increased traffic, noise pollution, silica dust pollution and environmental threats in opposition.

According to Currado, she, as well as other residents question a lot of the data that was presented by those representing Troyer Mine.

"I don't like the way they are going about things and they don't seem to care what they are doing to nearby businesses like Sakata Seed America."

The owners of Sakata Seed America, a vegetable breeding and research facility, also testified during the hearings, saying dust coming from the mines would have a harmful affect on their crops.

Prior to public comment, hearing examiners heard from a list of environmental witnesses who spoke against the rezoning of the land, claiming that it would impact sensitive wildlife habit. Among the groups were the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society and Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

Kelly McNab, Environmental Planning specialist at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, addressed environmental impacts.

"By its very nature, limerock mining results in ecologic impact to hydrologic flowways and wildlife," said McNabb.

McNabb also cited that the Army Corps of Engineers identified the Density Reduction/ Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) area as containing important wetland and species habitat, as it is adjacent and in proximity to several conservation and mitigation lands.

Another concern is the effect those opposed say the operation would have on endangered species, such as the Florida panther. The mine site sits in close proximity to one of the only known breeding populations of Florida panthers in the world, they testified.

"There has been significant public and private investment in adjacent and nearby conservation lands, which would be needlessly put at risk by allowing mines in these locations," McNabb said.

Speakers said there are enough limerock mine sites already operating in southeast Lee County. King Ranch Inc. is another mine operation currently in the application process with the hearing examiner for the rezoning of 1,800 acres just off SR82, which currently being used for citrus farming.

The hearings began on Tuesday, June 26, with Troyer Brothers Florida Inc., a family agricultural business, making its case as to why Lee County should allow it to mine limerock on land it has owned since the 1980s.

Aaron Troyer, president of the family business, explained the economic factors that led the family to choose mining for limerock on their property instead of sticking to the land's current use for growing potatoes.

The hearing is still under way, with the public comment portion of the hearing to reconvene on July 31 at the Lee County Hearing Examiners Office, 1500 Monroe St., 2nd floor, in Fort Myers.

The public may participate in the hearing during public comment or may contact the hearing examiner at hex@leegov.com .

Following the hearing, the examiner will make a recommendation to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners, which will hold a second hearing and make the final decision on whether to approve the request.

For more information, visit nomineon82.com/.

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